Check it out, from Booklist, which is apparently a very influential book in the publishing world. A starred review, written by Hazel Rochman, who is now officially the smartest, most perceptive person on the planet.
Will all the reviews be this good? Who knows. But so far, we’re one for one.
*Starred Review* Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading.
By Tommy Greenwald. Illus. by J. P. Coovert.
July 2011. 224p. Roaring Brook, $14.99 (9781596436916).
First published May 1, 2011 (Booklist).
With his “deep-seated love of not reading,” this title’s young narrator, Charlie Joe, speaks straight to other book-averse middle-schoolers. But avid readers will equally enjoy Charlie Joe’s story, with its wild parodies and plot and character surprises that continue to the very end. The elaborate plot revolves around Charlie Joe’s complicated tactics to avoid reading. He sets up bookworm Jake with cheerleader Hannah, for example, so that grateful Jake will read Charlie Joe’s books for a class project about school cliques, but things don’t go as planned; as Charlie Joe warns, “always be wary of plot twists.” Charlie Joe’s wry, first-person narrative, interspersed with anti-reading tips and occasional small cartoons, mocks nearly everyone, also himself, and the hilarious wordplay adds to the fun: Charlie Joe is in love with Hannah, but if she is flawless, her twin brother is “flawful.” Not all books are bad, though: Charlie Joe does like checkbooks (a source of gifts from grandparents), comic books, and Facebook. A perfect readaloud, this debut is filled with passages that beg to be shared: “It is impossible to concentrate because I don’t have my cell phone to text my friends to break up my concentration.” With its subversive humor and contemporary details drawn straight from kids’ worlds, this clever title should attract a wide following.
—Hazel Rochman


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